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by SixFigureStart | November 19, 2009


You've got to feel sorry for workers at AOL. First, they find out that parent company Time Warner is planning to spin the outdated ISP off next month. Then, as if that isn't bad enough, the move prompts AOL to finally take a look at itself and its business model and to declare what most of the world has long since suspected—that it's too big in this day and age. Cue today's announcement that it is seeking to cut its work force by around one third—some 2,500 workers.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the company "will seek volunteers for layoffs through Dec. 11 and will resort to involuntary layoffs if it doesn't reach its target." Can I have first dibs on predicting the number of "involuntary layoffs" out of the 2,500 in this economy? I'm going to go for 2,400, unless there are some serious redundancy packages on offer. In fact, it would probably be easier to find 2,500 turkeys to volunteer to be the edible centerpiece at Thanksgiving feasts across the country next week than to find anyone who thinks joining the back of a 15.7 million person line of job seekers is a good idea.

With all of that in mind, one has to wonder what a spun-off AOL going to look like—or do. In an age of broadband, WiFi, and 3G networks, the company's dial-up service seems as much a relic as the rotary phone, while its suggestion that it will concentrate on "expanding in online media content" seems beset by one teeny-tiny problem: no one is making money from content of any kind right now, be it online or on paper. That does still leave "branded display advertising," of course, but in a market where the company is competing with the likes of Google and the ad-search partnership between Microsoft and Yahoo, it seems very much an uphill battle.

See: you do have to feel sorry for AOL's workers—especially those in the HR department. They're going to be insanely busy next month delivering bad news to a whole bunch of folks who want to have jobs so badly that they just couldn't bring themselves to volunteer to give them up. Of course, it could always be worse: the layoffs might be happening right in the midst of the holiday season. Oh…

AP Photo/Ed Bailey

"Anyone got any Wite-Out?"

--Posted by Phil Stott,


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